Saturday, January 26th, 2019 at 7:10pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Thanks to the early screening we reported on earlier this week, I just got back from seeing The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and the short and sweet was that it was a blast. I obviously don't want to ruin things for anyone, so I'm not going to give away any plot details, but if you'd like to hear my initial thoughts after my first watch of the film, come read on!
It was hard to know what to expect going into the film. Like many, I absolutely loved The LEGO Movie and it's interesting twist and all the love it showed for the toy and its fans. I enjoyed The LEGO Batman Movie and thought it told a great Batman story while being fun and tongue in cheek. The LEGO Ninjago Movie was alright, but as I've said to many people while talking about it, when the credits rolled and I saw how many writers were on it it made perfect sense. There were too many stories and rewrites jammed into it. But The Second Part is a sequel to the original, not the spinoffs, so I was hopeful this could be a return to form. But still, I kept things tempered so as to not be disappointed.
Things started off strong with all off the main characters (and many of the side ones) returning and all performed by the same actors. Newcomers Tiffany Haddish and Stephanie Beatriz do great jobs as Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi and General Mayhem, respectively, and there's some fun cameos to be found as in the original. I do feel like the main group didn't quite get the focus that they did in the first film, with Benny, MetalBeard, and Unikitty not having as much screentime. It makes sense in terms of the story, but I wouldn't mind some more spinoffs or maybe a TV show featuring some of them to make sure they get their due. (I think a Benny show a-la Buzz Lightyear of Star Command could be a lot of fun.)
Animal Logic has returned to animate the film, and things have only gotten better since the first movie. It looks like the LEGO toys have come to life, with the bricks moving and behaving in a way you'd expect for the most part. Yes, the minifigures will disconnect themselves, but it all works in the film. The scenes with building are great as always, with the parts going together in a way that generally makes sense while looking cool.
I'm assuming by now everyone here has seen the almost-five-year-old The LEGO Movie, and that the cat is out of the bag in regards to the live action twist. To that end, we do see more live action scenes in this film, and I thought they were more of a mixed bag. One moment in particular was a bit cringe-worthy. I think I could chalk this up to several things - my expectation of this being a LEGO movie and not a live action film, some less-than-stellar delivery, and perhaps poorer writing and direction. Whatever the case, this was hardly the majority of the film and you should be able to look past it if you even have the same issues as me.
If you haven't heard Catchy Song yet, be prepared to hear it a lot soon, especially if you have younger kids in your life. As I was leaving the theater, I heard several other viewers still singing it. Jon Lajoie wrote that as well as the other original songs for The Second Part, and they're all frustratingly catchy. I've had Catchy Song on a loop as I've written this review and I'm sure I'll hear it long after I stop. Mark Mothersbaugh returns to score the rest of the film and does a great job capturing the right emotions and thematic beats. I'm eagerly awaiting the soundtrack being available when it comes out.
The story is probably the biggest area of concern most people will have going into the movie. The original The LEGO Movie perfectly captured that childhood imagination and had the added messages of never being too old to play and father and son coming together to play with our favorite construction toy. So how do things fair in The LEGO Movie 2? For me, the pacing was different in a slightly negative way. I think all the right story points were there for what they were trying to get across, but they lingered too long on some and sped through others. If you're the kind of person who likes to try to figure things out before the film tells you, make sure you pay close attention, because all of the clues are there if you pick up on them. While they already used up the big live-action reveal in the first film, The Second Part still did a great job of keeping me on my toes, surprising me, and hitting me in the feels a couple of times. I think the best thing I can say is that I want to see the film again just to see how everything fits together now that I know the end, and it was good enough that I will pay again to see it in theaters to do so.
Now here's the one spoiler I will give the film (and it's not really a spoiler) - unlike in The LEGO Movie, I did not see any Bionicle references in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. In fact, I felt like the LEGO references in general were much toned down in favor of pop culture ones. There were certainly a few scenes that FOLs will enjoy, and one old theme in particular did get some more time in the spotlight, but while the first film felt like a love letter to LEGO Fans, the sequel seems like it's targeted at a broader audience. While I enjoyed the pop culture references, which were certainly in no shortage in the other movies, a couple were a bit overdone in my opinion. Others will certainly feel differently though, and that's more of a matter of taste than anything else, I suppose.
In the end, my recommendation is that you go see The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part in theaters, but if you don't like opening weekend crowds, you can wait until things slow down a bit. It's a better sequel than a lot of animated films get, one with a lot of rewatch potential, a fun story, and great acting, animation, and music. I was entertained and am looking forward to going back again to experience it again. If you saw the movie today, let us know what you think about it in the Talkback!
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